The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests have the distinct honor of providing the 2020 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
Located on Colorado’s famed western slope, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests are a combination of three separate National Forests. Combined, these forests cover approximately 3 million acres of National Forest System land in the central and southern Rocky Mountains, an area that lies south of the Colorado River and west of the Continental Divide with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rockies.
Located on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies, the GMUG is the largest national forest administrative unit in the Rocky Mountain Region and reputedly, the fourth largest in the contiguous forty-eight states. It hosts a variety of forested and non- forested riparian areas, wetlands and a wide range of other ecological settings from alpine tundra to sage-grass prairies.
The Forests vary in elevation from 5,800 feet above sea level to 14,309 feet on Uncompahgre Peak. The Forests include spectacular features like the 355 foot high Bridal Veil falls; the Grand Mesa, one of the world’s largest flat top mountains, and home to over 300 lakes; and the Alpine Tunnel, once the highest railroad tunnel in North America.
Some unique features encompassed within the Forest include: one of the largest range program (AUM’s), five peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation; ten federally designated wilderness areas; headwaters to three major rivers – the Gunnison, Uncompahgre and San Miguel Rivers (totaling approximately 2.87 million acre-feet of water); providing habitat to over 300 wildlife species and a significant number of sensitive species.Additionally, the Forest contains two of Colorado’s largest earthflows: McClure Pass and Slumgullion Pass, a National Natural Landmark, along with seven scenic byways.
For more information, please visit the GMUG National Forest website.
*Image 1: Island Lake, Grand Mesa National Forest, Photo Credit: Bob Wick